Samuel Silver, a former circuit judge who presided over a landmark Florida gay rights case in 1977, has died of natural causes. He was 89. He died Friday at the Miami Jewish Home and Hospital for the Aged.
In 1977, Silver presided over the case in which Miami-Dade County's gay rights ordinance, which prohibited discrimination based on sexual orientation, was challenged by a group led by singer Anita Bryant. Silver ruled that the ordinance banning discrimination against gays was constitutional, adding that the controversy over the Miami-Dade County law "created a chaotic, divisive, restless, emotional atmosphere in our community." Following the ruling, Bryant's "Save Our Children" campaign began a successful petition drive that resulted in Miami-Dade voters repealing the county's ordinance by an overwhelming margin of 69% to 31%. Miami-Dade County has since passed and upheld a gay rights ordinance.